Hyper Bicycles' Eric Carter has confirmed the brand is gearing up to begin selling high-end mountain bikes through Walmart.com in the USA and Canada in the near future.
Carter, the Brand Manager, has told Pinkbike that the spec of the bikes has been confirmed and that Walmart has committed to selling the bikes. He was unable to give an exact time scale for the bikes to go on sale due to the lead times being extended due to COVID, but expected it to be Spring 2021 at the earliest. It's worth noting that we've heard from Hyper that they are gearing up to sell these bikes on a number of occasions, but this is the first time we've been given such concrete signs that it is imminent.
The first bike will apparently be Hyper's AM 27.5 160mm travel bike that we saw Bas Van Steenbergen riding to 3 victories at the recent Crankworx Summer Series
. Carter also said that Hyper is also working on an affordable complete carbon hardtail project targeted at supporting the growth of the NICA leagues
to be sold through Walmart channels. We don't have any details, including the price of either bike, but we expect them to be released closer to the release date of the bike.
Hyper, a brand whose roots lie in BMX, has been sponsoring mountain bike athletes since 2012 when it announced Cam Zink in a shock move. Back then, Zink was riding a rebadged Corsair frame however since then we have seen Hyper sign more athletes who are riding original designs. Now, the brand sponsors both the Van Steenbergen brothers
, Jordy Scott and Eric Carter himself and we've seen them riding a downhill bike, an enduro bike and a dirt jump bike too.
You can currently buy the dirt jump frame, however this will be the first time a full suspension team bike has gone on sale from the brand.So what has taken so long?
The answer can be broken down into two parts, timing and patience.
Back in 2011, when the Hyper mountain bike project started, IBDs still ruled the roost and buying bikes direct was far less common than it is now, especially in the US where the big European brands such as YT and Canyon hadn't yet begun selling. Carter says, "We feel the market has curved towards our brand's position with the direct to consumer and online sales channels being acceptable avenues to offer and purchase products."
The other half of this is getting the bikes to the place they wanted them. Hyper offered mountain bikes at Walmart back in 2011, but they were missing the higher level bikes and the riders to add brand credibility. Eric, who was a Hyper sponsored rider from 1992 to 1995, came back on board and together with the owner formed an initial plan to buy off the shelf, catalogue frames, rebrand them and then push them out into shops. However, the quality fell below what the pair wanted. Eric says, "after review, the owner and I were not happy with what was available and wanted to have something that was a definitive Hyper bike. So we went down a few rabbit holes of working with a few designers, we ran into some last-minute patent issues on designs we were doing… we actually didn’t have issues as we probably would have won any court proceedings but we just didn’t want to spend the money and time defending drawings, at the time we had no inventory or tooling done."
The next step was to bring in the expertise Robert Stemen, a former GT engineer, who along with Eric and some input from Cam Zink, started to work on Hyper's own frames. Eric explains, "We identified some things we really wanted our bikes to do and spent a lot of time screen sharing over kinematics, shock placements and came up with some designs. After getting the tooling cost and manufacturing cost quotes our focus was to make these bikes and have them under top riders and hopefully start to build recognition and exposure for the brand and specific bikes and at the same time hope the market would shift a little to accept Hyper as a higher level brand offering."
It seems that time is now as Hyper begins gearing up to sell through Walmart. The past 9 years haven't been a waste for Hyper though as it has allowed them to position themself as a credible brand with race winning frames and, Eric says, the development process has trickled down to Hyper's more affordable range and brought better geometry and tubing to that price bracket.
We'll update you with more details of Hyper's production frames as and when we get it.